Whether you are studying, interning, or service-learning abroad, there will always be a common ground of impermanence. No abroad journey can last forever and to me, this felt quite unfair at first. In New Zealand, the culture, attractions, and community are all far too vast for me to discover it all in just two months. While I haven’t exactly explored the entire world, I can say the same will hold true anywhere you travel.
Often times, this drives travelers to the mistake of trying to squish and squeeze EVERYTHING into their short stay abroad. One of my coworkers at Wellington High School was explaining how she would always have to stop the tourists she hosted from trying to travel the entire country in a week. A week! To put that into perspective, I have been staying in Wellington for two months and still find new places to explore right by the city.
It’s truly impossible to see everything in such short spans of time. The worst is actually trying to, because it defeats the real purpose behind traveling abroad. It’s counter-intuitive to try to appreciate all of the sites a country has to offer when you’re frantically running about from place to place. How can you enjoy an attraction when you know in the back of your head that you already have to leave for the next one?
While it sounds bleak, realizing the temporary nature of studying abroad is actually quite a good thing. The easiest way to make the most out of your journey is to avoid doing the most. By focusing on fewer adventures, especially the ones that interest you most, you can spend more time appreciating what they offer. Going on too many trips would devalue what you see. Not to mention all of the stress, money, and energy that you will save!
It also isn’t necessary to extend your stay just to broaden your experiences. Keep in mind that traveling is intended to be temporary. Ideally, brief enough for you to shift your perspective on the world without compromising its true identity. Missing out on a pretty waterfall or temple won’t inhibit you from self-discovery, either. If anything, the time constraint will help teach you the most about yourself with regards to patience, understanding, and what you value.
The world awaits…discover it.